Human Rights Council Intersessional Roundtable on Ways to Enhance the Participation of Indigenous Peoples' Representatives and Institutions in Meetings of the Human Rights Council on Issues Affecting Them


16 July 2021

Statement by the President of the Human Rights Council
H.E. Ms. Nazhat Shameem Khan

Friday, 16 July 2021

Virtual Roundtable

Mr. Co-Chair,

Distinguished representatives of indigenous peoples and Member states,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I open the Human Rights Council's intersessional roundtable on ways to enhance the participation of indigenous peoples in meetings of the Council. At the outset, I would like to welcome all of the participants in today's roundtable, including state representatives, indigenous peoples, and the Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of indigenous peoples.

The participation of, and partnership with, indigenous peoples in United Nations processes is essential to advancing the rights of indigenous peoples. In this regard, I commend the Expert Mechanism for holding this inclusive intersessional roundtable on possible steps to be taken to enhance the participation of indigenous peoples' representatives and institutions in meetings of the Council on issues affecting them.

I am pleased to recall that a similar intersessional interactive dialogue took place in 2019 and that the discussions at that time were particularly productive. In fact, many states expressed support for indigenous peoples' participation in the Council and expressed their commitment to strengthening that participation.

The importance of indigenous peoples' participation in the work of the United Nations is best exemplified by the landmark United Nations Declaration on the Rights of indigenous peoples, Article 1 of which provides that indigenous peoples "have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognised in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law". The Declaration is an example of the power of participation, in that for the first time, rights-holders participated in the drafting and negotiations of such an international instrument. So successful was this approach that subsequent human rights Declarations followed a similar approach.

It is important that the balanced participation from the seven sociocultural regions is prioritized and I note with appreciation that those seven regions are represented at today's roundtable. Against this backdrop, I wish to encourage everyone here to discuss openly and creatively a vision for how indigenous peoples can participate more fully in the work of the Human Rights Council.

Before concluding, I would like to state that the active participation of all rights holders in the work of the Council is essential to the fulfilment of its mandate and I trust that such participation can take place without fear of intimidation or acts of reprisal. In this regard, let me assure you that I will address and follow-up on any allegations of reprisal and intimidation in relation to the work of the Council.

I look forward to hearing the outcomes of your discussions today and I thank you for your attention.